Friday, December 21, 2012


I’m not talking bars, today, internet.  With Christmas just around the corner, and New Years on its heels, let’s get down to business.  The holidays are stressful.  It’s also cold.  A good bottle of wine does wonders to counter both of those things, and also serves as an acceptable holiday gift.

Maryland has frustrating liquor laws, at least for those of us coming from states that aren't Pennsylvania.  Wikipedia outlines them for the entirety of Maryland here, but I’ll break down the city’s laws for you, beyond the obvious, “Don’t drink if you’re under 21 unless you’re under your parents’ roof with their consent,” “Don’t drink and drive,” and, “You can have alcohol if it’s a religious service and that’s how y’all roll.”

  • You can’t buy alcohol at the grocery store (except for Eddie’s of Mt Vernon and Roland Park.  Raise your hand if you know why, because I have no earthly clue).
  • Bars/taverns can’t sell you alcohol after 2am.
  • You can’t buy alcohol on Sundays, except for any Sunday that lands between Christmas and New Years.  At least they’re not barbaric about it.

Many convenient places will tend to your boozy holiday needs.  My corner store with it’s ever-changing hours and bullet-proof glass between you and the cashier is a lovely enough place to pick up a dry white wine for a risotto, assuming you can get there at one of the odd hours it’s open.  I’ve walked by at 6:00p and it was shut, and walked by at 11:30p and it was open.  I just don’t understand.  You can also send your Western Union Money Order there if you need to!  My brother bought a handle of Tanqueray there once for $30.  These corner stores are incredibly hit or miss.  I hate to admit that I’ve shelled out $12 for Bobby Mondavi when I desperately wanted to braise beef.

There’s a nice little shop on Charles St, Spirits of Mount Vernon, that has a far superior collection to your corner store.  Everyone is incredibly helpful and friendly, and there’s a lovable ball of brown fur named Boris behind the counter who briefly sniffed Bubba once, thus solidifying their friendship until the end of time.  Spirits of Mt Vernon helped me during Artscape when I needed wine but couldn’t escape my neighborhood.  They helped me pick out a lovely sake for my wine club.  The vibe is great, the staff is knowledgeable, and you don’t have to put your credit card in one of those swirly glass boxes so no one shoots anyone.

Hands down, though, my preferred place to stock up is The Wine Source in Hampden.  Amy over at Charm City Cook wrote a pretty thorough summary about their glories back in January.  The Wine Source has a selection of wines that makes me want to Scrooge McDuck into it all (replace money with wine, here).  They have liquor should you need or want it, gluten-free beer for those of us that can’t find it alongside Natty Boh at the above mentioned corner store, and an entire section devoted to cheese, chocolate and charcuterie.  The Wine Source staff will help you find a wine to match your meal/mood in any price range, and don’t judge you when you bee-line directly for the discount wines.  For reasons which I will never question, The Wine Source is also open on Sundays.  They have extended holiday hours, because they know that many of us will underestimate just how much wine our families will drink.  Just be sure to send out your designated driver to pick up the emergency bottles, please.  Or call a cab. (Arrow Cabs: 410-261-1000)

I’ll be making a stop on my way home for the holidays to ensure there is a proper amount of wine and bubbly for both Christmas and New Years.  

So you’re new to Mobtown and need to beef up your bar.  Hit up Spirits of Mt Vernon or The Wine Source, or take your chances at the local corner store.  You decide!

1 comment:

  1. An under-appreciated but fantastic place to buy wine (and Italian groceries of all kinds) in downtown Baltimore is Trinacria: It's behind a shabby storefront in a pretty ghetto area, but it is well worth it. They have a great selection of wines with surprisingly low prices! Their cold-cuts, bread, pasta, etc. are amazing too.